Wednesday, August 13, 2014

#RememberRobin

It's all anyone is talking, sharing, tweeting or thinking about right now. Oscar-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams, dead at 63 from a now confirmed suicide. Numerous sources on the internet state that Robin Williams had been battling depression for quite some time, and since then I can bet that everyone's news feeds have been taken over with talk of depression and suicides, but there's also been quite a few wonderful quotes from the man himself and from his movies, not to mention the occasional Genie photo.

This is a difficult time for so many people. Almost everyone has been charmed by at least one of Robin's quirky characters or has had their gut busted by his stand-up routines. I myself prescribe the Alcohol/Marijuana bit from one of Robin's early shows at the Met to people who are in need of a laugh. The last time I linked that video to somebody was to a friend after they'd just had their wisdom teeth removed.

I didn't find out about this beloved actor's deaths until around 7:40 on August 11th (which oddly enough happens to be my mother's birthday). I was at work when my coworker got a call from his friend and co-worker from his other job at EB Games. At first I was sure it was some sort of internet hoax, like the vicious practical jokes played on actors like Adam Sandler and Morgan Freeman in the past. But I was sad to see that the story was being confirmed more and more across various web channels.

This recent news has caused me to think back to my own personal history with the works of Robin Williams, as I am sure many have been doing over the past few days. I remember that Jumanji scared me too much to watch when I was a little kid, so I didn't get to enjoy the film until later in life. I'd giggled in the ways of my childhood at the charismatic and over-the-top personality of the genie in Aladdin and I cracked up at Robin's many voices portrayed in Mrs. Doubtfire. 2 summers ago I took quite a few trips to my local video rental store (yes, those still exist!) and in that one summer when I was recovering from a bad breakup I was soothed with my own laughter as I watched Patch Adams for the first time, and I felt an entirely new kind of sorrow as I watched Awakenings. I watched Good Will Hunting for the first time as well and finally I was able to understand what so many people I knew had been raving about.

During this difficult time I also thought of Zelda Williams, one of Robin's children, who is also an actress and who has made various appearances with her dad, such as in commercials for Nintendo and in an Cobra Starship music video. I retweeted a picture she shared on August 4th, when she still had her father here in this life.

This difficult time has brought up a lot of feelings for a lot of people. They have cherished Robin's words and his achievements, they have memorialized him in their own special way. This tragedy has caused people to reflect, and to share. Will Wheaton tweeted with 2 blog links that put me in higher spirits. I tweeted the link to another blog post about Robin Williams that also gave a link to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, where you can go to seek help for yourself, a friend, or even if you see someone on your social media who is exhibiting signs of suicidal thoughts. I've read posts about the impacts that depression has on lives and how it's not to be taken lightly, and how it's far from a "get over it" situation.

As someone who suffers from anxiety with occasional bouts of depression, I too understand how this feels to a degree. And when I think of Zelda, I've found myself thinking about my own father as well, and how we're not as close as we might have been once upon a time. Even with the difficulties one faces in life, perhaps it is better to battle with those difficulties such as awkwardness and dread than to later be consumed by regret. That is a message to anyone, including myself, that has someone in their life they wish they were closer to and who needs to realize that life is short.

As Robin Williams' character says in my favorite of his films, Dead Poets Society, which I am watching as I write this, "Carpe Diem. Seize the day."
RIP Robin Williams
You will always be "O Captain! My Captain!"

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